Dedicating a Day to Honor Holocaust Survivors

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By Rabbi David Seth Kirshner

I hope you will consider joining me on June 24, 2021, in dedicating one day to the honor of survivors of the Holocaust.

Much of my Jewish life has been shaped by the teachings of Sinai and the memory of Auschwitz. I have followed laws, kept traditions, and remembered the martyrdom of those in Europe who died for their beliefs. Like many, I have lit a candle on Yom Hashoa and participated in International Holocaust Day and spoken about both from my pulpit. One area that we collectively can devote more attention and recognition is towards the courage, heroism, and resilience of Holocaust Survivors in our world. That is a dwindling population that will be no more than a memory for our children’s generation.

Jonathan Ornstein, the Director of the JCC in Krakow ideated Holocaust Survivor Day and has created the vision and momentum to mark a time on the calendar where communities across the globe can pause and properly acknowledge the gift that Shoah survivors have been to our Jewish world. The day of June 26th was chosen (it is on June 24th this year because June 26th is the 17th of Tammuz) because that is the birthday of Marian Turksi, a Shoah Survivor who lost all of his family in the camps. After the war, Turski settled in Warsaw and used his pen to fight communism and used his feet to march for equity in all four corners of the earth. Turski is 94 years young and a beautiful representative of this special endeavor.

I ask you to consider one or all of the following ways you can be a part of this new moment in time and this hallowed experience of honoring Survivors of the Holocaust:

  • Write about this day in your congregation and/or organizational communications.
  • Speak about this day and the countless contributions survivors have made to the fabric of the Jewish world.
  • Create parlor meetings, Zoom assemblies or salons with your community Survivors to engage with younger generations to tell their story and create first-person memories.
  • Turn towards an angle of the Shoah that does not focus on the atrocities, rather the resilience of those who lost family, witnessed the worst yet had the resilience to move forward in the establishment of a Jewish state and a life and a career, despite that all.

I look forward to marking this day on the calendar for years to come and celebrating the lives and accomplishments of the Shoah Survivors who shaped our collective world for the better.

Read more about Holocaust Survivors' Day.

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